On June 5, 1822, twelve men paid $20″ each to purchase books for a library. These men were J. J. Evans; David and Elias Gregg; D. R. W., J. K. and T. E. McIver; Thomas Smith; Alexander Sparks; D. R. and J. N. Williams; J. F. Wilson; and J. D. Witherspoon. On December 7, 1822 the men formed the Society Hill Library Society.
THE OLD SOCIETY HILL LIBRARY
(Written by Miss-Sue Wilson)
The St. David’s Society was organized in 1777 and incorporated in 1778, “established purposely for founding a public school for educating Youths in the Latin and Greek languages, mathematics and other useful branches of learning.” (Quoted from Gregg’s History of the Old Cheraws) “St. David’s Society also originated the Society Hill Library Society about the year 1822* Its membership was composed of the most intellectual and cultivated people of the community.
They selected books of value and variety,” consisting of Biography, History, Travel, Science etc., also fiction by standard authors, Dickens, Scott, Thackery and others . “The Library Society arranged for the use and care of the books and made rules for the management of the Library and for additions to its collection of books as occasion required. A fee for membership and an annual fee from each member were required for purchasing new books and for any incidental expenses. Much interest was felt in this Library and the members used its privileges. The rules for borrowing and returning books were strictly observed. It was a source of instruction and pleasure to the members and their families and was an educational factor for those who would avail themselves of it. The ministers and teachers had free access to its privileges.
The original members have, of course, passed away, their descendants are now the stockholders. Most of these have moved to other communities.” The old library is not used now, It may be considered as a ancient relic. Occasionally some traveler who may have heard of its existence, will stop by and want to see how it appears on the inside, Some college students will select “The Old Society Hill Library” as a subject for a thesis and will seek admittance for a short period of research.
The present citizens of Society Hill consider the books out of date, and refer the lighter fiction of the present day, along with the numerous magazines and newspapers. “The old library contains a valuable collection of books and should be preserved for its worth, as well as for a memorial of the culture and intellectual tastes of the men and women of long ago, our honored ancestors.
June 5, 1822 Agreement to pay $20 each to purchase books for a library. After these books were purchases, on December 7, 1822 the men formed the Society Hill Library Society.
An unidentified banner from the collection of the Society Hill Library Society at the Darlington County Historical Commission.
The Record Book for the Society Hill Library Society, 1880.
Various list of their holding, the green bound copy was published in Charleston, SC, July 11, 1840.
Below are extracts taken from the minutes of the Library Society
“Saturday, Dec. 7, 1832”
The following persons held a meeting for the purpose of establishing a neighborhood library::
John N. Williams, Alex Sparks, J.J. Evans, not present; David Gregg, John D. Witherspoon, D.R. Williams, Elias Gregg, D .R .W .Mclver, Thomas E. Mclver, considered as belonging, but not present; John P. Wilson, John K. Mclver, Thomas Smith. Each of these persons had previously placed in E. Gregg’s hands $20 making (with his contribution) $240 with which he purchased books in Philadelphia in August last, which were this day delivered to the company. After some consideration, the meeting, to secure its object, adopted the following preamble and rules In order to extend our opportunity of reading, by collecting a joint library, we, the undersigned (names written above) agree to associate ourselves under the name of the Society Hill Library Society, and pledge ourselves to observe the following rules;
- There shall be elected annually in the society, a president, who shall perform the duties usually assigned such an officer. A librarian, who shall also act as secretary and treasurer, A committee of three persons for purchasing books, etc. The chairman of the committee shall preside at the meetings in the absence of the president,
- The library shall be opened every Saturday, from 10 o’clock a.m. to 12, for taking out and returning books,
- No person shall take out at once more than two folios, or two quartos, or six octaves, or eight duodecimos.
- No person shall be allowed to lend a book out of the family to which it belongs,
- For any more than ordinary injury done a book, or for any writing, penciling or scribbling in a book, the person having it out shall pay such sum as the librarian and any two of the purchasing committee shall assess, provided the same shall not exceed the value of the volume, or set, as the case may be,
- Any member who may lose a volume, shall replace the same, or the set to which it belongs, or pay the original cost and 50 per cent thereon.
- The second Saturday of July shall be the day for the annual meeting of the society. In case there should be no annual meeting, the acting officers shall serve for another term, or until successors are elected.
- The president shall have the power to call a meeting of the society whenever, in his judgement, it seemed expedient.
- No number of members, less than seven, shall be a quorum to conduct business.
- The annual contribution of each member, or each shareholder not a member, shall be i|5, payable in advance. Persons not members of the society may, with the consent of the librarian and purchasing committee, have the use of the books, under the rules of the society, upon paying $5 per year.
- Other persons may become members of this society with consent, expressed by ballot, of three fourth, of the members present, by subscribing these rules and paying the initiation fee of twenty dollars. This fee to be increased at pleasure when further contributions are made.
- The property, real and personal, of this society shall be paid as a tenant in common, and divided into as many shares as there are members, of which each member shall be the owner of one share, which shall be transferable by sale, gift or devise,
- The president of the society shall give to each member a certificate, signed by himself, and sealed with the seal of the society, that such member is entitled to one share.
- On the production of such certificate, with the evidence of transfer, any person shall be admitted a member in lieu of the former owner of such share, but not until all arrears due the society by such former owner are paid, provided, nevertheless, no person shall be admitted a member of the society until he shall have been balloted for.and received two-thirds of the votes of the members present.
- Any person admitted a member, as the purchaser, donee, or devisee of a share, shall receive a new certificate of membership and subscribe the constitution.
- On the death of any member, without having specifically devised his share, the same shall rest in his or her executors or administrators until the division of the estate, when the distributee, to which such share is assigned, shall be admitted a member, in the same manner as a purchaser of a share is admitted. But no executor or administrator, in whom any share may vest by the operation of the clause, shall be permitted to sit and vote as a member, or be entitled to take books from the library, except for the use of the heir or heirs at law of his or her intestate or testator, in which particular he or she shall have all the rights and privileges of a member. But no annual quota shall be required to be paid on any share held by infants until they are so far advanced as to commence using the books.
- No part of these five last foregoing rules shall be altered or repealed except by the consent of two- thirds of the members of the society. Nor shall any of these, or the first rules, be altered, repealed, or amended until a proposition for that purpose shall have remained from one annual ruling to another.
The “Old Library” is located beside the Society Hill Town Hall and is open to the public by appointment.
To learn more about the Society Hill Library Society and other Darlington County Historical Markers – visit the Darlington County Historical Commission Historical Marker webpage.
For more in depth resources covering the people, places and events that make up our rich Darlington County History – visit the Darlington County Historical Commission at 204 Hewitt Street, Darlington, SC 29532.